Lockheed Re-Affirms Spanish F-35 Talks Despite Madrid Denial

Lockheed Martin F-35B
Credit: Lockheed Martin

DUBAI—A Lockheed Martin executive says discussions continue with the Spanish government about a potential future order of F-35Bs and F-35As despite a firm denial by Madrid. 

“They have an aircraft carrier, and they’re going to have to replace the Harrier, so our approach into Spain is really through that,” Lockheed Executive Vice President Greg Ulmer told ShowNews on Nov.16 at the Dubai Airshow. 

“Obviously, we see the [F-35] B-model to be that,” Ulmer added, referring to the short-takeoff and vertical-landing variant. “We’re also talking to them about potentially A-models as well.”

Ulmer’s comments come a week after a spokeswoman for the Spanish Ministry of Defense said the government had “ruled out” an order for the F-35 in favor of the country’s participation in the Future Combat Air System program. The spokeswoman was responding to comments by Lockheed executives on a third-quarter earnings call with analysts, where Spain was listed as a potential F-35 buyer. 

Despite the ministry’s denial, Lockheed remains in discussions with Spanish government officials, Ulmer says. 

“I understand there’s a different [statement] that they’ve come out with, but we continue to hear from them that there’s interest in F-35,” Ulmer said. 

Lockheed also is proposing the F-35A as a candidate for planned fighter purchases by the Czech Republic and Greece. 

A nearly two-decade-old lease agreement by the Czech Republic for Saab Gripen C/D fighters expires in 2027. Lockheed evaluated the F-16 and the F-35A as a potential replacement, but settled on offering the latter due to the “complexity” of the Czech Republic’s requirement, Ulmer said. Offering Prague leased or used F-35As is not likely. 

“I don’t see a way from an F-35-lease perspective off the top of my head,” Ulmer said. 

Steve Trimble

Steve covers military aviation, missiles and space for the Aviation Week Network, based in Washington DC.